Family Australia Trip

Nov 18th, 2012, 08:37 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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Family Australia Trip

My husband and I have decided to take our 8 children to Australia to visit my cousins in Melbourne in 2 years as our last big family trip before our oldest branches out on his own. Our kids will then range in age from 18 to 4. We are a very active but very frugal bunch. We absolutely LOVE road trips--this summer we did a 3 week, 5000 mile excursion and when we got home we wished we could be back on the road. We don't mind driving at night through the boring places to get to the fun stuff, but as this is a once in a life time trip, we want to see anything exciting there is to see. We'll have at least 3 weeks, we're hoping for 6 if we can save enough to stay that long. The biggest expense is the airfare but we're thinking that with 10 of us we may be able to find some group discounts??

The only thing we know for sure is that we'd like to drive from Melbourne up to Cairns stopping in Sydney. We'd like to see coastal as well as inland. We LOVE the idea of seeing the outback but aren't sure if that's feasible with 8 children. As far as lodging goes, we're thinking it may be easiest to rent a place for a week in a central location and explore out around that place? Thoughts? Suggestions? Also, I know here in the US we were able to stop at KOA's and camp but still have access to showers and bathrooms for those nights when we were in a place where there was nothing much to see/do so we just stopped to get a few hours' sleep before heading back on the road. Does Australia have anything comparable?

Oh, and we try to only hit touristy places that are "must see". Like this summer we had to stop in at New Orleans because, hey, it's New Orleans! but we only stayed for a day because we far preferred the deserted beach we found an hours drive up the coast.

I hope that's enough information to get some helpful responses. And before anyone says anything yes I know that 8 is a lot of kids, yes we know how they were created and how to prevent them and yes, we are crazy. And we love it.
Bloodhound is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Well, congratulations on taking such a hearty trip!! Although our family isn't as large as yours we have done massive road trips in Australia! As you will be in Melbourne, I think it is a must that you travel the Great Ocean Road, stop at Otway National Park, there is a campground there with thousands of Koala's hanging over your head, it is amazing, and a vision you will never forget. Along that drive we visited the Grampion Mountain Range all the way to Adelaide where we went on to Kangaroo Island for 2 days. There is a campground where we stayed at the Southern tip of the island. Now having said this, Australia is an amazingly vast land, make sure you look at drive times and what there is to see and do along the highways. We were discouraged from making the Melbourne to Sydney drive as the views aren't so good, and honestly the roads aren't so great either, they aren't like the highways in the States. Jetstar and Virgin Australia can often provide great pricing if you watch their sales. I would fly from Adelaide to Sydney and then start your drive North from there. There are plenty of camp grounds along the way to stop at. You have to decide what type of vehicle you are going to rent, your options will be fairly limited and costly. We ourselves are headed back again to travel the East coast and Darwin/Perth. We've done the Outback, it is a very long drive from Adelaide. My kids did like it overall, we visited Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. If you do have six weeks however you could travel straight from Adelaide to Ayers Rock, Alice Springs to Darwin visiting Kakadu then straight to Cairns then down the coast from there, that would be another option. So much to see so little time... Have fun planning, sounds like it could be a great adventure!
chris1gill is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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Would it be cheaper/better to rent 2 cars there and just do 5 people in each? And will my 18 yr old son be able to help drive on the long boring stretches?
Bloodhound is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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It could be cheaper to do two cars, it really depends what you need and want. I would investigate some of these campgrounds along the way, many offer camp kitchens (you can easily purchase tents in AU, I'm looking at You will have to evaluate how much time you have, and closely look at drive times. I've thought about it since my last post, and I can't emphasize enough how wonderful the Great Road was and how it has stuck in our minds, particularly the stop at Cape Otway. Kangaroo Island was very memorable, but if I had to make a choice I would say that Moreton Island and feeding dolphins was THE memorable island we have had, that is off of Brisbane. The ferry to get over there is expensive (there are two), but you might be able to work out a group discount. But is one of those memories we all have and likely will have for the rest of our lives. We have been able to hold Koalas at Dreamworld near Brisbane, it's half theme park, half cultural adventure. We may skip Dreamworld this time and go to the Lone Pine Sanctuary where you can also hold a koala and see animals, it's much less expensive. You have to think about where you might want to splurge and where you want to save. We never did the tours in Ayer's Rock, we brought nibbles and wine on our own for the sunset and of course woke early on our own to go to the sunrise. Alice Springs is worth three quarters of a day. This trip we are going to Katherine Gorge and Kakadu along with Darwin/Perth/Cairns/Cape Trib. there's a wonderful campground in Cape Trib (just search Cape Tribulation campground). You'll be doing a lot of planning, it's good you have time to research. We planned our upcoming trip late with only ten months to plan. I like the two year plan, we've always gone for 4 wees or 4 and a half, this trip is a little over 3, not enough for everything we want to do. We are flying between all cities because of our short timeframe. We are only spending one day in Sydney as we''ve been there quite a lot, but I would plan a visit to the Harbor (Circular Quay) and Darling Harbour, and then a trip into the Blue Mountains. So many places to visit so little time to see it all! I will say be careful with any camper you rent, we were supposed to rent a camper four our Outback time and shortly after we booked the company went out of business and we lost a significant deposit.

But to shorten what I'm saying, our highlights as a family:
Cape Otway and the Koala's
Dreamworld and holding Koala's
Moreton Island and feeding the dolphins
NYE on top of the Opera House (but take a Harbour Cruise!)
Stopping at a random rest area along the Great Ocean Road and finding a wonderful Bandicoot staring at us

That's the very short list, I probably could come up with a hundred things
chris1gill is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 10:06 AM
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I almost forgot, it's really not feasible to rent a place for a week, there is nothing central to anything, Australia is huge and if you want to see the highlights you will always be on the move. Five days is the longest we've ever stayed anywhere and even then we decided to take an excursion and wound up staying yet another place as our room was sitting vacant!
chris1gill is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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What time of year will you be here?

You may find rental car firms charge a premium for <25 yo drivers.

Another accommodation option that may suit you is cabins in caravan parks. I use them quite often and they are a low cost alternative to motels, often in spectacular locations. For city accommodation, look at self catering apartments will give you an idea of what's available, but it by no means covers all available options.

The other thing you may enjoy is staying at local country pubs - often very reasonably priced, with breakfast included.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2012, 10:46 PM
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Bokhara2, what is a self catering apartment and where would I find one?
Bloodhound is offline  
Nov 19th, 2012, 01:49 AM
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Here self catering refers to accommodation where you have your own kitchen and prepare your own meals, as distinct from hotel style accommodation. They are generally houses, apartments or cabins.

There are a number of websites - I'm sure if you google self catering along with the city or town you want to stay in, you'll get plenty of options.

As a starter, will give you some ideas of what's on offer, prices etc.

If you do decide to fly between capital cities, I suggest you sign up for the email broadcasts from Virgin & Jetstar airlines. They offer some very cheap specials quite regularly.

Do be sure to check distances between your planned destinations carefully - often visitors are caught out by the great expanse of Australia . . . just because we are an island, doesn't mean that the country is small! I understand that your family enjoys travelling, but you want to be able to take the time out to see more than the open road.

Keep coming back with your questions - there are plenty of locals on this board who can make suggestions to help with your planning. Di
di2315 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2012, 02:48 AM
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Bloodhound I think you will find that it is cheaper to rent a small bus and luggage trailer. You could also hire camping gear or stay in cabins in caravan parks. A base in the Grampians and one in the Dandenongs would be a good start as an introduction to Australia. Remember however as others have pointed out that this is a huge country. It might be worth while flying as some have suggested but there will be plenty to see in any region you choose and as you are going to Melbourne then see Victoria and maybe the Snowy Mtns and Canberra looping back a different way.

WE know you like to get away from the crowds but what do you like to do there? What do your kids most want out of a trip to Australia? That may be how to decide what to do.
AlanJG is offline  
Nov 19th, 2012, 03:35 PM
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First of all there are no boring roads in Australia or anywhere for that matter.

Secondly, Cairns is 3000+ km from Melbourne. In three weeks this equates to about 143km/day for 21 days. This is doable. If you stop somewhere for a week. It becomes a rush where you will not see or do much.

As a family of 9 we did lots of trips when we were young so it is doable. As you probably know already many places will not give all of you a family discount. Two adults and two kids is a family apparently. Sometimes one adult and 3 kids. But do ask and haggle a bit.

There are plenty of things to see and do that are cheap or free.

I consider that there are three types of "Outback".

The tourist Outback = sealed/good gravel roads and fuel/Water/supplies every few hundred kilometres regular flow of vehicles. Be sensible, keep your fuel topped up and you should be OK barring any major mishap. Go for it.

The 4WD Tourist/Worker Outback - Sandy/rocky roads quite remote. You need to know what you are doing.

The REAL REAL Outback - Extremely remote. For experts only.

As Alan said, let us know your interests and we can help more.

For starters though, cabins in Carvan parks are about $100/night for up to about six people. Tent sites $20-30 again for about six - extra people are usually about $5+ each.

6 berth camper van or motorhome would start at $200+ per day.
peterSale is offline  
Nov 19th, 2012, 05:22 PM
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We do not have KOA as such. There a a couple of Franchised type camping parks Big4 for example. Most however are family owned type businesses. This poses a problem as their websites tend to be very basic, if they exist at all, and often do not have prices.

Keep in touch.
peterSale is offline  
Nov 26th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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Wow - that's some trip you are planning. When you are doing your research on accommodation use terms like "holiday house" and "retreat" for some ideas on how to accommodate a family of that size. If you can stay mid-week, often those kinds of places have vacancies since they are mainly used for weekend gatherings.

We went on a holiday with 7 in a family, and found that booking large cabins with multiple rooms and bunk beds in the local caravan parks worked out well. They were self-catering in that they all had fully equipped kitchens and grocery stores not far away. They book out early though - so you need to be ready to book them 1 year in advance (most don't do it earlier than that).
ThulaMama is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 03:14 AM
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Another lovely spot in Barwon Heads, which will appeal to the frugal is the Barwon Heads Caravan Park

It's in a brilliant location,right on the foreshores and just to the left as you cross the Bridge coming from Melbourne.

Bit of TV trivia: Those who remember "Sea Change", will be interested to know that Laura's cottage is here.

I stayed for 2 nights a couple of years ago and had a very good dinner in the restaurant near the entrance to the caravan park, on the water.
Bokhara2 is offline  

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